In the space of four days, general manager Brian Cashman said Derek Jeter, 15 years the Yankees shortstop and signed for three more, might end his career in center field. Then Yankees president Randy Levine called new Texas owner Chuck Greenberg “delusional” and encouraged him to keep the Rangers “off welfare,” all because Greenberg suggested the Rangers may have extended the Cliff Lee negotiations long enough to keep him away from the Yankees.
Sounds like someone isn’t yet over the Rangers’ victory over the Yankees in the ALCS.
We’re all used to people in New York saying crazy things. But usually it’s from someone on a street corner stirring up a crowd near Times Square, not from a Yankees executive in the Bronx.
We have our own conspiracy theory to explain it. With all the talk of what Cashman said about Jeter and what Levine said about Greenberg, no one mentioned the Yankees actually paid money this week to sign Bartolo Colon, who’s 37 years old, listed at 245 pounds (and if you believe that, you’ll believe Rafael Furcal’s birth certificate) and last pitched in the majors in 2009 — and ineffectively at that.
No one is talking about that, are they?
As for Jeter, it’s hard to see him playing anywhere but shortstop. He’s 36 years and has never played a major league inning at any other position. There’s a touch of DiMaggio’s stubbornness in Jeter, combined with a sense of Yankee legacy. Why should he even contemplate moving? He’s as likely to agree to go to Kansas City as he is center field.
The Yankees had a chance to move him in 2004 when they acquired Alex Rodriguez, who was the superior defender, and they declined (or Jeter did). It’s hard to see it happening now or next year, with Jeter coming off an improved defensive season and without an apparent replacement other than Ramiro Pena.
(Although if center fielder Curtis Granderson keeps riding around New Zealand on a motorcycle, the odds improve).
Cashman compared Jeter to Hall of Famer Robin Yount, who switched from shortstop to center field, and it seemed apt, but for what Cashman didn’t say. When Yount switched positions, he was 29 years old, not 36. By the time Yount was the age Jeter will be in spring training 2012, he was in his final season.
To be fair, Cashman was speaking in the hypothetical. Of course, that’s a tense for which New York knows no distinction, and Cashman has been around long enough to know the fallout.
As for Levine, he’s quickly becoming our favorite Yankee of the offseason. Earlier he called Cashman the best general manager in baseball, right after he listened to him as if he were George Costanza and signed Rafael Soriano when Cashman said not to.
This week he overreacted to harmless remarks by Greenberg, exulting that Lee is a Phillie and not a Yankee. Bitter much, Randy?
Perhaps Greenberg was smug, but by Levine’s reaction, you’d have thought Greenberg scribbled He used steroids on Babe Ruth’s monument at the Stadium.
There was nothing hostile or untoward about Greenberg’s satisfaction. The Rangers would prefer Lee to be a Phillie — and out of the American League — just as the Braves would prefer that Lee be a Yankee and out of the NL. The enemy of your enemy being your friend and all.
As Craig Calcaterra of NBCsports.com pointed out, “given how tied up Randy Levine was in securing over a billion dollars in tax exempt bonds for the construction of Yankee Stadium — and how defensive he was about it when people called the Yankees out on that — he’s the last dude who should be complaining about welfare.” (link below)
But complaining and securing the back page of the tabloids with attention-getting remarks is what the Yankees do best this offseason. So much so, we’ll almost be sorry to see it end.